TheJakartaPost.Com – Thu, 11/27/2008 11:06 AM | Bali
Many tourism web portal managers will attest that maintaining a portal about Bali, one of the world’s more popular tourist destinations, is not an easy task, but they all agree on one thing: Persistence is the key.
Consider John M. Daniels, 55, who manages Balidiscovery.com. Aside from providing links to recommended hotels and restaurants, John manages a weekly newsletter on the ins and outs of Bali.
It was the newsletter that drove the popularity of his portal, which he defined as a spontaneous move that was born out of a crisis, he said.
His original intention — when he began writing about Bali in the late 1990s — was only to clear up some rumors about the haze on Sumatra Island that had affected the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Thailand. His U.S. colleagues had thought the haze had reached all the way to Bali.
John, who has been in the Bali tourism sector for the past 30 years, started out by sending e-mails to his friends to convince them that Bali had not been affected by the haze and it remained one of the most beautiful islands to visit.
What John did not imagine was that he would end up managing one of the largest portals on the island, with some 20,000 people subscribing to his weekly newsletters.
“I have sort of a fanatical determination to keep people informed about Bali. I was traveling in the North Pole and I was still checking on Bali and writing newsletters about the latest news,” he said.
“I thought it was important to set the record straight, be it negative or positive news, because if you let rumors get out of control people will start buying into them and Bali’s tourism will suffer.”
John writes his newsletter between Saturday and Monday.
He would often get tired of writing, but he could not find anyone else to do the job. On the other hand, newsletter ideas kept coming.
After 9/11 and the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombing incidents, John found himself compelled to continue writing about the island.
“Because each time I try to close the site down, Indonesia throws me another crisis,” he said.
After 10 years running, John said he would continue to write as long as the public deems his writing relevant and his portal useful.
Meanwhile, Kadek Agoes Mulyadi and Melina Caruso, the creators behind Baliparadise.com, have remained true to a simple design that rarely gets updated.
Their portal remains one of the largest in Bali, 6.1 million visitors since its creation in Jan, 1998, to October of this year, which is an average of 600,000 visitors per day (most portals only need 100 to 1000 visitors to stay afloat).
When asked how they kept their portals alive after 10 years, both agreed that it was their persistence in keeping their portal’s design that made it popular.
“We’re developing a brand. The site has an exact look and feel to it but when people come across it they come across useful and up-to-date information,” Melina said.
There is no accurate data on how many web portals appear and disappear in Bali, though most estimates say their number continues to grow.
“Many have begun to realize that advertising in magazines, papers and other off-line media is too expensive,” he said.
“Web advertisements on the other hand are not only available 24-7, but will last forever.”
He agreed that older portals such as Balidiscovery and Baliparadise have benefited from consistency and persistence and advised creators of recently established portals to believe in their product.
“Even I — who has a background in agriculture — ended up as a web developer because I was persistently learning how to create websites,” he said.
“That’s also true for web portal managers who want their products to succeed.” — JP/Andra Wisnu
Sourced from : The Jakarta Post Newspaper